Name: Holli Christi (pen: H.K. Christie)
Where are you from
I am a native and current resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. I attended Saint Mary’s College of California where I received my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (’00) and a Master of Business Administration (’12).
Yes, this is the same small liberal arts college that Mahershala Ali (Academy Award winner for best supporting actor, Moonlight) attended, but we missed each other by a few years. I tell this fact to anyone who will listen.
I currently balance my time working as a Project Management Consultant in the Life Sciences industry and working on my next novel. I live with my husband and Shih-Tzu, but we are frequently visited by my 21 year old stepson, who is currently attending University in Southern California.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I will be announcing launch dates for my current work-in-progress this summer. Stay tuned!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
About two years ago, I conducted an experiment on myself to figure out what would happen in my life if I stopped watching TV for 30 days.
I was inspired by a book I read, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. Duhigg proposes that by breaking a habit it can lead to positive changes in unexpected and seemingly unrelated areas. I was very scientific about my experiment and created a hypothesis of what I thought the outcome would be. I also decided that I would write a book about my experience.
My hypothesis was completely wrong and my book, looking back now, was terrible! However, during that time I had my “a-ha” moment and realized I loved writing. It was quite unexpected.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
During the time I was writing my first “book” about my TV experiment, I had to tell something interesting about myself during an “ice breaking” activity at work. I told them I was an aspiring author and that I was working on my first book. That is really when it hit me. Yep, I’m a writer now. If I wasn’t, I better become one since I just announced it to a room full of people.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel, We Can’t Be Broken, although fiction is inspired my own family’s story. I wanted to share our story with others going through similar experiences in order to provide hope, comfort and inspiration as they too faced adversity and all the challenges life throws at us. Almost equally so, I wanted to write it for my family to objectively see what we went through and how far we’ve come. I wanted them to feel the pride I feel when I think of our accomplishments.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I definitely write how I speak and try not to be overly descriptive.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t have a title for We Can’t Be Broken until I wrote the last sentence of the first draft. It was the last four words in the book. I wrote it and thought, “That’s it. That’s the title.”
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Don’t give up – determination and hard work pay off.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is based on my family’s story. The protagonist Casey is based on me and my life. Most events actually occurred but names, dates, some events, dialogue and descriptions have been changed to protect the guilty – I mean innocent.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’ve read many books that have expanded how I think about the world. I read most genres, however historical fiction in times of religious or political persecutions have stayed with me, even if it has been years since I read the book.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Kerry Lonsdale is a newer author that I have been reading lately. I really like her style – it has a nice balance of description and mystery. I tend to not like overly descriptive writing. If I can skim a page and not miss anything – it’s too descriptive.
I don’t have a favorite author.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Twitter writing community. I had never been on Twitter before becoming a writer and was surprised how encouraging and supportive people are! It was a pleasant surprise.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d probably go into more detail about the later years and maybe less about the earlier years. Or just more on the later years. I don’t know, I try not to think too much about it since there isn’t anything I can do about it now!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
It’s a science fiction series that mixes elements of climate change and technology expansion and the possible effects on our world. It’s a fun project that is allowing me to be uber creative as well as utilize my science background.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Just the writing part. Seriously.
My whole adult life has been spent trying to be the least creative writer, as possible. With degrees in science and business, I was taught to eliminate all non-essential facts and to bullet point when possible.
It didn’t matter if the trees were rustling in the wind when I ran the HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography). What the HPLC looked like or what the HPLC was doing before I went in to the lab to run samples was not important. All I needed to write was materials used and to report results. Nothing more, nothing less.
For example, science says to write, “Buffer lot no. 1234. HPLC #YY45. Drug: Lot#2000R. The antibody has 94% monomer and 6% aggregate.”
Not… “It was a brisk November morning when I begrudgingly entered the lab. To my left was a row of giant machines humming softly, hoping I would greet them with my usual curiosity. I pulled out my samples from the too-cold freezer on the right and gently placed them onto the ebony bench to equilibrate to the surrounding temperature. While my test subjects thawed, I began to reach for my pipet…” You get the point.
Creating writing is a challenge for me, which is probably why I love it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I didn’t have to travel much for We Can’t Be Broken. However, for my sci-fi novel I have and will be field tripping around the SF Bay Area.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover for, We Can’t Be Broken, was designed by Michael Rehder.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having to re-live a lot of buried memories and emotions.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I had to do a lot of research on neuroblastoma, the cancer my sister had. As a result of that research, I learned how much treatments have advanced since the 1980’s and how much more prevalent neuroblastoma is today. I now realize how lucky we were she survived when her treatment, at the time, was largely experimental. Also, I learned how to write and publish a novel.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Great question! I’d pick Jennifer Lawrence to play Casey and in the supporting role of Agatha, I’d cast my sister, Kaitlyn Cornell.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Find effective ways to squash your self-doubt (I’ve learned ALL writers have it).
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy the book!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading, My Sister’s Grave (The Tracy Crosswhite Series Book 1) by Robert Dugoni.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I think all of the time spent reading the Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High series in my pre-teen years has erased memories of earlier books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
When I’m with my family, we tend to laugh and cry at the same time. Especially since I released the book, We Can’t Be Broken. We get to talking about the crazy times (from years ago) and laugh so hard we cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Stephen King. I want to know everything he knows.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“Here lies Holli Christi – She finally gave up.” I’m known for never giving up once I’ve got my mind set on something. I find death to be the final submission.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I like to read and to run. Although, I don’t do either as much as I’d like.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love the series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but I also tend to watch a lot of BBC mysteries. I’m currently watching Shetland.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is a baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese and chives. I never pass up the opportunity for a baked potato. Never.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve held many different positions in the Life Science industry, from scientist to project manager, before becoming a writer. Now that I’ve found writing, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I am currently on break from my vlog but will resume at the end of the summer. I will relaunch with new brand and site.
In addition, my web links:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/H.-K.-Christie/e/B01MZGWRVE